the billionaire Oleg Deripaska said this Thursday that Russia could run out of funds as soon as next year by the lack of investment and the enormous expense in the invasion of Ukraine, and assured that the effects are already being felt in the Russian economy.
“Next year there will be no money. We will need foreign investors”, he said categorically at the Krasnoyarsk Economic Forum in Siberia.
Just a few days ago, Vladimir Putin had congratulated himself on the state of his finances. “The Russian economy has turned out to be much stronger than the West thought,” he said in the address to Congress.
But Deripaska, founder of the largest aluminum product outside of China, cautioned that funds are running outin one of the most direct criticisms of the Kremlin from the business world, surrounded by possible reprisals from the government, which ended 2022 with a record deficit.
the tycoon urged Moscow to stop interfering in business and instead create a predictable environment based on the rule of law to attract foreign investors back to the sanctions-hit Russian economy.
But he was quite pessimistic. The billionaire declared that did not expect a “de-escalation” in Russia’s conflict with Ukraine before mid-2025 at the earliestand that Western investors might not return for another decade.
Deripaska said Russia needed and could still attract investors from “friendly” countries – those that have not joined Western sanctions on Russia for invading Ukraine – but was scathing about the business climate in an economy the Kremlin is trying to focus on. more and more in the war effort.
Russia’s wealthiest businessmen – a group often referred to as oligarchs – have generally kept a low profile since the invasion, making Deripaska’s public criticism of the government unusual.
“I am very concerned all the time that the State and the companies constantly clash,” he said, questioning why the State needed “two prosecutors and four inspectors for each businessman.”
The 55-year-old founder of aluminum giant Rusal, who is under Western sanctions for his alleged ties to the Kremlin, has lamented on other occasions the effect on the Russian economy of a military campaign whose value he questioned.
In addition to driving out Western companies and investors, the invasion has disrupted supply chains, removed hundreds of thousands of men of fighting age from the economy, and isolated Russian companies from Western technology.
“The rule of law and predictability are very important. If we change the rules of the game every year or every quarter, no one will have faith: neither Russian businessmen nor foreign ones, ”he was quoted as saying by the Interfax agency. “We won’t have to choose. Next year there will be no money. We will need foreign investors. And they will look to see what Russian investors earn, what conditions they have”.
The Russian economy will shrink by 2.9% this year, according to official ministry forecasts, and analysts expect another contraction in 2023, saying Russia’s medium-term growth potential could be just 1%.
According to preliminary Russian data, the economy, which was forecast to grow 3% before the war, contracted 2.1% last year. Ratings agency Moody’s forecast this week that domestic output would contract 3% this year, below the central bank’s forecast of -1% to +1%.
(With information from Bloomberg and Reuters)
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